Detroit Team Wins First LIFT Intelligent Water Systems Challenge at WEFTEC 2018

Oct. 5, 2018

Open-Storm Detroit Dynamics won $25,000 prize from Xylem, Inc.

In Alexandria, Va., a team from the Great Lake Water Authority and the University of Michigan won the first-ever Intelligent Water Systems Challenge for using data analytics to develop a tool to maximize the use of collecting systems and minimize combined sewer overflows in Detroit.

The winning project, Open-Storm Detroit Dynamics, was announced at this year’s Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC). The conference was in New Orleans and earned the team a $25,000 prize from Xylem Inc.

“As we continue to support and promote innovation in the water sector, we are also looking for ways to integrate practical applications,” said Eileen O’Neill, WEF executive director. “Our hope is that the Intelligent Water Challenge will demonstrate the value of intelligent water systems to utilities and help foster the adoption of smart water technologies.”

The competition challenged students, professionals, and technology experts to use innovation and data to help solve some issues facing water and wastewater utilities. The challenge began in April and required the participating teams to address real world problems.

The Great Lakes Water Authority team predicted its solution can enable Detroit’s system to handle an additional 100 million gal with no new construction. This translates to savings of about $500 million. The research grant underlying the tool was less than $200,000.

Second prize of $15,000 went to the team from Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) for its project, Developing Intelligent Advanced Warning Systems for Odors at Thornton-Composite-Reservoir.

Third prize of $5,000 went to the Clean Water Services (CWS) team in Hillsboro, Ore., for its project Influential Pump Station Optimization. Team members came from CWS and reaches across both wastewater treatment within the facility as well as field operators.

The $2,500 prize for Most Elegant Solution went to the Pima County, Ariz. team, for the creation of integrated data reporting tools for capturing data across multiple formats and databases to produce fewer and more refined reports within the facility and field operators.

According to a press release from the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Intelligent Water Systems Challenge is hosted by the Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT), a joint effort of WEF and Water Resource Foundation.

The Intelligent Water Systems Challenge is supported by the American Water Works Association, the Smart Water Networks Forum, the International Society of Automation’s Water and Wastewater Division, Cleveland Water Alliance, The International Society of Automation, The Water Council, Water Technology Acceleration Project and BlueTech Research.